Focus on Nature XV: Natural and Cultural History Illustration

Focus on Nature XV will be hosted by the Roberson Museum and Science Center in Binghamton, NY from July 21, 2019 to January 12, 2020.

For more information about the exhibtion, visit:

Call for Entries has Closed


The Focus on Nature jury selects original* works of natural and cultural history subjects (in whole or in part), excluding human anatomy and portraiture, that demonstrates:

  • a high degree of technical skill
  • scientific accuracy, including taxonomic definition
  • aesthetic qualities, including composition
  • a unique scientific and/or artistic viewpoint, techniques, medium, or format (organic depiction, schematics, diagrams, etc.) including traditional, mixed and multimedia, or computer-generated images
  • a broad representation of artists

The jury is looking for original artworks, not digital versions of traditional media. Scanned traditional techniques that have been significantly modified (as decided by the jury) should be entered as mixed media and an explanation of the modifications provided in comments section of entry form. If this is not provided, it will not be considered for jury. Printouts of traditional media (e.g., scanned image of a watercolor) without significant modification are not acceptable. The acceptability of modifications is at the discretion of the jury.


Fernando Jorge Simões Correia, Guest Artist Juror
Department of Biology, University of Aveiro (Portugal)

Michael Grasso, Guest Scientist Juror
Executive Director, Roberson Museum and Science Center

Dr. Chuck Ver Straeten, New York State Museum Scientist (sedimentary geology)

Dr. Jeremy Kirchman, New York State Museum Scientist (ornithology)

Patricia Kernan, New York State Museum Artist (FON curator)

Banner image by: Linda Thomas
Seneca Meadors Wetland
Acrylic on canvas, 2011

Nadja Baltensweiler, Blue Congo Potato (Solanum tuberosum)
Sean Murtha, Terrestrial Life of the Green River Formation
Pam Little, “Ravens Gathering”
Tara Dalton Bensen, Arboreal Salamander

Luca Marini, Catalogue of Teleosts Fish from Seychelles Islands II - Praslin Island, Watercolor, 2016

About Focus on Nature

Focus on Nature (FON) is a biennial exhibition of scientific, natural and cultural history. Since its inception in 1990, the exhibition has reflected the standards, materials, and skills of contemporary natural and cultural history illustrators. It has increased awareness of a genre that requires scientific accuracy for publications, interpretive nature centers, as well as many research and educational purposes. During the past 30 years, the materials, media, and subject matter has expanded and the quality of submissions has risen. It now includes some of the best illustrators from around the world. Each Focus on Nature exhibit has been built on the accomplishments of the participating artists. Artworks considered for inclusion must accurately represent the subjects, or research results and processes.

Focus on Nature began as an experiment. We sought to demonstrate the connection between science and images; stimulate an interest in natural history art among practicing artists, aspiring artists and the public; and bring this art to the attention of people attending what has come to be called the Northeast Natural History Conference. Those thoughts still guide the jury. We think our experiment has worked because visual communication, like a universal language, will always help scientists explain complex objects and concepts to a general audience.

 – Patricia Kernan and Dr. Norton Miller, Founders and Permanent Jurors of Focus on Nature

Contact Information

Patricia Kernan, FON Curator
New York State Museum
Research & Collections
3140 CEC
Albany, NY 12230
Phone: (518) 486-2024